Believe it or not, March 4 is the great annual holiday, National Grammar Day! That means that editing today has a special target: grammar!
Note: I’m not saying that your grammar has to be good. That’s one of the things that I love about writing fiction. This might be a good time to focus on dialogue and make sure your characters are each speaking the way you would expect them to. Vary it up! Otherwise, they’ll all come out sounding just like you. And that’s just a little bit creepy. You should also take a look at your narrative tone. Most people just aim for something relatable and friendly if they’re writing in third person, but there’s more to it than that. Look at any great novel and you can see that there’s something special about the narrative voice. It sounds like the story. The Lord of The Rings doesn’t go with contemporary twentieth-century slang to relate better with readers–it keeps in touch with the epic style of the world of Middle Earth.
This can seem tricky if you’re not used to thinking about style, but it’s easy to pick up. Find a book that you admire the style of and study the grammar! Are the sentences more active or passive? How many contractions are there, and where? How does the dialogue vary between the narrator and the speakers? Copy out a few paragraphs on a word document or sheet of paper, and you’ll become very aware of the differences between that style and your own. Even if you’re not a grammar whiz, you can still pick up on it!
Adjusting the grammar of your novel is a fantastic way to bring your own style to life and to build up your characters. If you’re wanting to focus on something specific at your stage in editing this novel, this is a great place to start! In case you’re still feeling overwhelmed, start small. Find a scene or a character that you want to come off really strong stylistically. Forget the rest of your novel and just focus on that one point. Iron it until it’s smooth.
Happy National Grammar Day, everyone, and good luck finishing that novel!